Overwatch slammed onto the games scene in 2016, as the first, and very out-of-their-typical-genre, shooter from Blizzard Entertainment. The megalithic developer of World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft finally set its sights on a team based multiplayer FPS, and made everyone else start running scared, with good reason. This game is phenomenal.
Of course, Overwatch has been around for a while now, but let’s review the core identity of the title. It’s a first person team-based shooter, with a lot of vibe lifted straight from Valve’s seminal Team Fortress 2, but under a shiny coat of a magical fantasy scifi type aesthetic that Blizzard is so, so good at creating. Over its life, it’s become refined to a diamond of an experience. With the Nintendo Switch selling so well, and the Diablo III port on Switch doing the same, it’s unsurprising that Blizzard looked to port their premium shooter to the platform.
Now, while Diablo III is a silky-clarified-butter port of the initial release, perfectly in practically every way, Overwatch on the Switch cannot boast the same pedigree. It’s got a few technical shortcomings. First, it was not designed to be played on a 720p screen. A lot of the details become very tiny and are very hard to parse in handheld mode. Second, of course, the visuals suffer a pretty sharp downgrade. This is a AAA PC title running on a Tegra tablet after all, so it’s to be expected. However, the drop to 30 FPS, despite being the focus of much of the initial criticism with the port, isn’t really that big of a deal. Yes, it’s not ideal. But are competitive players who really need those extra frames really going to be choosing the Switch version? I’d say no. Notably, docking does mitigate the legibility issue, and brings the experience into a much better place.
Overwatch just bursts with style. A huge roster of characters, a great experience progression, some attempt at a story woven into the experience, what we expect of a Blizzard title is here. On the Switch, the controls are generally responsive and feel good, but the source of my one real gripe. The Switch joy-con thumbsticks just offer much less range for a zippy shooter, and aiming feels a little difficult, again, especially in handheld mode. Swap to a Pro / other controller while docked (which was my go-to setup while I was on the road) and the problem disappears, thankfully.
There are a huge variety of clever maps and combined with the gameplay modes really keeps things interesting. I personally love the really creative spins on the different classes, something Blizzard is no stranger to developing, and this is where the game really shines. Every character has so much personality and plays differently, but is easily accessible. Unlike other class-based shooters I’ve tried, I wasn’t afraid to explore the different role types, which is commendable.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The really big question everyone asks is, who is this version for? Well, that’s actually pretty clear, once we take a step back. It’s for anyone who has a Switch that wants to enjoy this game. Not everyone who plays a competitive game like this has to be grinding towards the professional level. I really enjoy playing Overwatch somewhat casually with my friends. We generally prefer the objective-oriented FPS games to, say, your Call of Duty type shooters (yes, I know, Call of Duty has that, but it’s not the focus).
Pre-pandemic, I traveled a lot for my career, and I loved being able to play this with buddies on my hotel TV while on tour. If I’m at home, would I play the Switch version? No, really not ever. But, with that admission, let’s remember, not everyone has a PC at home capable of running Overwatch, and maybe the Switch is their only console. It’s a very capable port, and you can have a ton of fun with it. If this is your best option to experience this fantastic game, you’re going to love it. It’s for you.
As an aside, I’d like to address the other elephant in the corner, the Paladins-shaped one. Does Paladins run at 60 FPS on the Switch? Yep, sure does. That (surprisingly) doesn’t make it a better experience. Paladins is a great game, but it’s not Overwatch, just like (sorry Blizzard) Heroes of the storm isn’t League of Legends. It’s just a different level of, well, everything. I do enjoy Paladins sometimes, but I’m a Blizzard person, through and through, and the level of polish they bring to the table just can’t be surpassed in this instance.
Overall, if you’re a fan of first person shooters Overwatch is a top-tier game that shouldn’t be missed, and especially if you’re looking for something beyond a K/D ratio. This is no surprise. What is a surprise (or maybe not, it *is* Blizzard we are talking about here) is that this experience was able to be crammed into the Switch. It’s not perfect. It’s not your best option to play the game. But, if this version fits your needs, or the Switch is your only game-capable device, Overwatch on the Switch will not disappoint. It’s an amazing game, no matter how you look at it, and if you’re at all curious about it, now is the time.
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.